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FDA, FTC issues warning to companies that falsely claim to cure or prevent COVID-19

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Posted at 8:07 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 08:40:16-04

A pair of government agencies issued warning letters on Monday to seven companies who are accused of falsely advertising that their products can cure or prevent COVID-19 illnesses.

The letter comes as Americans from coast to coast have cleaned out grocery store shelves, creating shortages in cleaning and sanitation products at stores. The coronavirus has topped 100,000 cases worldwide, and fears of a widespread pandemic in the United States are growing.

The FDA and FTC said that there are currently no vaccines or drugs approved to treat or prevent COVID-19.

The letters were sent to Vital Silver, Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd., Xephyr, LLC doing business as N-Ergetics, GuruNanda, LLC, Vivify Holistic Clinic, Herbal Amy LLC, and The Jim Bakker Show.

The claims, the agencies said, could mislead consumers in believing the products could be useful in curing or preventing COVID-19 symptoms. For instance, the Jim Bakker Show published a claim on its website that a product could kill off the coronavirus.

“But this influenza [sic] that is now circling the globe, you’re saying that Silver Solution would be effective? Well let’s say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it’s been tested on other strains of the coronavirus, and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours, totally eliminate it, kills it, deactivates it,” said a video clip that was on the website that the FDA and FTC claims is not accurate. "Silver Solution has been proven … to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on … and it can kill any of these known viruses."

"The FDA considers the sale and promotion of fraudulent COVID-19 products to be a threat to the public health. We have an aggressive surveillance program that routinely monitors online sources for health fraud products, especially during a significant public health issue such as this one," said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. "We understand consumers are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 and urge them to talk to their health care providers, as well as follow advice from other federal agencies about how to prevent the spread of this illness. We will continue to aggressively pursue those that place the public health at risk and hold bad actors accountable."

The FDA and FTC said it has requested the companies respond in 48 hours describing the specific steps they have taken to correct the violations. Companies that sell products that fraudulently claim to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19 may be subject to legal action, including but not limited to seizure or injunction, the agencies added.